Cantor Richard Botton, with a rich Sephardic background and breadth of musical and liturgical innovation, served as cantor of Central Synagogue for near a quarter century. He was ordained and graduated with honors from the School of Sacred Music of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and holds a Masters Degree from Adelphi University. In November, 1998 Cantor Botton received a Doctor of Music degree from Hebrew Union College.
Well schooled in secular music, he has appeared as soloist for major orchestras and choruses, performing Ernest Bloch’s Sacred Service, and Leonard Bernstein’s “Dybbuk.” A first prize regional Metropolitan Opera Auditions winner, he has performed opera nationally, mostly of Jewish content on the operatic stage. (Lazar Weiner’s “Golem”, and Frederick Piket”s “Isaac Levi”)
In 1974 Cantor Botton was called to the pulpit of Central Synagogue after distinguishing himself as a musical innovator, having commissioned musical and multi-media dramatic works for use in worship. In 1967 he commissioned the first complete published Jewish worship service in the Jazz Idiom which was televised nationally on CBS. During his tenure at Central Synagogue, he collaborated musically with the renowned Jazz Ministry of St. Peter’s Church, NYC.
Cantor Botton served The American Conference of Cantors as both President and Director of Placement. He was awarded Reform Jewish Educator status by the UAHC (now URJ) for his extensive work with children, particularly those with learning diablities.
Cantor Botton now performs a lecture/concert about his Sephardic background, entitled, ”Living Ladino”. There is a CD with many songs he sings from his childhood sold internationally by the same name.